When the film appeared in the Edinburgh Film Festival in 1960 it was reported that seven audience members fainted during the surgery scene. Director Georges Franju responded "Now I know why Scotsmen wear skirts."
Initial releases of the film were met with negative reactions from film critics. One French critic stated the film was "in a minor genre and quite unworthy of his (Franju's) abilities." Franju responded by saying that the film was his attempt to get the minor genre to be taken seriously.